OPM offers new incentives for cyber recruiting

Shutterstock image: breached lock.

The Office of Personnel Management has enhanced the ability of federal human resources managers to use recruitment, relocation and retention (3R) incentives to attract or hang onto cybersecurity workers.

In new guidance issued on Jan. 15, OPM Acting Director Beth Cobert told agencies they could approve exceptions to the spending limits on the 3Rs based on critical need and the backing of their chief human capital officer or human resources director.

In a previous memo in October, Cobert said that without more flexible 3R incentives to attract talented professionals, "strengthening federal cybersecurity is not possible."

The more flexible grants for exceptions to the 3R spending limit, she said, "may assist agencies in recruiting and retaining the most highly qualified cybersecurity employees to meet the government's important challenges of strengthening federal networks, systems and data."

In related news, the federal agency responsible for thwarting foreign spying in the U.S. has posted the latest in a series of five videos warning victims of the OPM breach how that information might be used by outsiders.

The National Counterintelligence and Security Center, which works under the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, posted a video on its website advising federal and private-sector workers on the methods foreign agents could use to probe deeper into networks or get additional sensitive information. An NCSC spokesman told FCW that the goal is to make people more aware of how they might be targeted.

The video shows a federal employee approached by a foreign agent posing as a colleague and later asked to provide sensitive information. The employee was targeted using information from the OPM breach, according to the video.

The first two videos -- on spear phishing and social media dangers -- were posted last fall. Two more -- on travel awareness and social engineering -- are planned for later this year.

About the Author

Mark Rockwell is a senior staff writer at FCW, whose beat focuses on acquisition, the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Energy.

Before joining FCW, Rockwell was Washington correspondent for Government Security News, where he covered all aspects of homeland security from IT to detection dogs and border security. Over the last 25 years in Washington as a reporter, editor and correspondent, he has covered an increasingly wide array of high-tech issues for publications like Communications Week, Internet Week, Fiber Optics News, magazine and Wireless Week.

Rockwell received a Jesse H. Neal Award for his work covering telecommunications issues, and is a graduate of James Madison University.

Click here for previous articles by Rockwell. Contact him at or follow him on Twitter at @MRockwell4.


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